Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Rising

by Bryce McRae on August 12, 2009 @ 12:01:02 PDT

 


Also see: Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Falling

Fantasy baseball waivers and the acquisition of fantasy baseball free agents can make or break a season. You may have adjusted your fantasy baseball cheat sheets over and over during spring training. If your team remains the same after opening day, though, you will probably have trouble competing in your rotisserie baseball league.

Do you need to add players to replace your fantasy baseball busts? Which players can you ignore? KFFL.com's Diamond Market series gives you the fantasy baseball tips and advice you need to sort through the masses quickly.

Key

Acquire - Add player (in most circumstances)

Watch - Track player; consider adding if trend continues

Pass - Do not add player (in most circumstances)

First basemen

Randy Ruiz, Toronto Blue Jays

Ruiz was called up Tuesday to take the spot vacated by outfielder Alex Rios. The Bronx native went 1-for-4, but that one hit left the park (in his hometown New York no less). The 30-year-old posted a .320-25-106 line with Triple-A Las Vegas this season. He has just a .273 average and only two dingers in the majors, but he has never received an abundance of at-bats (66 career). Manager Cito Gaston plans to give him a chance, though, and Ruiz will be in the lineup often as the DH. Beware of when Travis Snider is ready to come up, though.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Shortstops

Alcides Escobar, Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers swapped J.J. Hardy for Escobar in the middle infield today. One of Milwaukee's top prospects, Escobar was hitting .298 with 76 runs and 42 steals in 430 at-bats for Triple-A Nashville this year. He's also known for his elite defense.

Milwaukee hasn't said how much Escobar will be playing, but it's safe to assume they've called him to be in the lineup regularly. Hardy has been mentioned in trade rumors, too, and Escobar likely will have to "battle" Craig Counsell for at-bats. He could see the odd start, but the 22-year-old Escobar looks to be the man in Milwaukee. Gauge your urgency of acquiring him from your standing in the steals column.

Shallow mixed: Watch

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Outfielders

Wladimir Balentien, Cincinnati Reds

Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves
More below on this rehabbing arm

Regular at-bats have helped Balentien finally find some success at the major league level. He has started almost every game for Cincinnati since Aug. 4, hitting .450 with one homer and five RBIs. He has also noted being more selective at the plate (five walks to two K's in that time), which is a huge improvement from his Seattle days (only 13 walks to 43 K's this year).

It's still a fairly small sample size, and he could be fighting for at-bats, especially once Jay Bruce (wrist) returns to further crowd the outfield (Laynce Nix, Jonny Gomes, Willy Taveras and Chris Dickerson). However, for now, it's worth taking a chance on the 25-year-old slugger.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Starting pitchers

Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals

Meche (back) is slated to return to the rotation Thursday. The 30-year-old righty allowed just one run and three hits over five innings during his last rehab start with Triple-A Omaha. Perhaps more importantly, his velocity topped out at 92 mph, but if he wanted, he was able to reach back and hit 93-94 mph. His breaking stuff was all good, too.

The Royals likely will have Meche on a pitch limit during his first start, though they should still let him approach 90-100 pitches. He is someone to add if a hasty owner viewed Meche's back injury last month as an excuse to drop the struggling starter (4.50 ERA and 1.50 WHIP this year).

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Acquire

Freddy Garcia, Chicago White Sox

"Freddy's on the way up," according to manager Ozzie Guillen. However, Guillen has said he thinks Garcia needs at least one more rehab start before returning, which would seem to eliminate him from the discussion for filling the fifth starter role Aug. 18, at least for now.

Garcia has allowed just two runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out 10 in 14 innings in the minors. His velocity has also been topping out at 91 mph. If you're struggling for pitching in AL leagues, keep close tabs to see how he fares in his next outing before adding him.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

AL-only: Watch

Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves

The Braves are planning to give Hudson (elbow) four more rehab starts before possibly returning him to the rotation once September hits. He still needs to get used to game speed again, but he has been feeling good with both his arm and throwing after his recent rehab start Thursday. Start putting him on your watch lists.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Watch

Cesar Carrillo, San Diego Padres

Carrillo is set to make his major league debut Thursday, replacing Chad Gaudin (now with the New York Yankees) for at least one turn in the rotation. Carrillo, the Pads' 2005 first-round draft pick, has been knocked around a bit in the minors this year (8-6, 4.47 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Portland). He also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007. Still, he has been throwing the ball well, per manager Bud Black, and his velocity is regularly in the low 90s, hitting 95 mph at times. He isn't worth a spot start Thursday, but if he receives another turn, it likely would come against the Chicago Cubs at PETCO Park, a moderately favorable matchup.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Watch

NL-only: Acquire

Relief pitchers

Billy Wagner, New York Mets

Wagner (elbow) is slated to return from the DL this Sunday. He has thrown five shutout innings during his rehab in the minors, yielding just three hits and striking out six. He likely won't be in line for any saves (in New York or elsewhere), but he could boost your ratios.

Shallow mixed: Pass

Deep mixed: Pass

NL-only: Watch

Also see: Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market - Falling

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About Bryce McRae

Bryce McRae is a Managing Editor with KFFL and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1999. He joined KFFL as a volunteer writer in March 2005 before becoming a Hot off the Wire Analyst in March 2006. He began working in his current capacity in September 2008. His work has appeared on fantasy sports sites such as Yahoo! and CBS Sportsline as well as in print. He graduated from the University of British Columbia in 2008 with a B.A. in History and U.S. Studies.


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